Paths to 21st Century Competencies

Civic education, especially when it is interactive and involves discussion of current issues, is an important way to develop the skills that young Americans need to succeed in the 21st Century workforce.  Students who experience interactive discussion-based civic education (either by itself or in combination with lecture-based civic education) score the highest on "21st Century Competencies" including working with others (especially in diverse groups) and knowledge of economic and political processes. Students who experience neither interactive nor lecture-based civic education have the lowest scores on all of the 21st Century competencies examined. This group, which comprises about one-quarter of all American students, shows not only low levels of knowledge but also a relatively low level of willingness to obey the law.

Interest is high on the part of business leaders, as well as the general public, in the competencies that young people will need to thrive in an economy that is rapidly changing, global in scope, and technology driven.  Educators are urged to ensure that young people acquire 21st Century skills and competencies by the time they leave school.